A THON Proposal: Jake & Diane
Whenever you witness something incredible — a proposal — at a large event — THON — you can’t help but think, “I wonder if I know who those people are…” You talk to as many people you know about it, hoping to find out a name, or any sort of clue as to who they might be. Usually, once you figure out all the details, the closest you are to that event is the friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend…
But sometimes, your brother — Alec Kristobak — calls you shortly after that proposal and tells you that his girlfriend — Ali Zambanini — happens to be best friends with the guy that just proposed.
Enter Jake Feathers, and his fiancée Diane Mowery. Both Jake and Diane are from Johnstown, Pa., but it wasn’t until their freshman year in college that they met at Penn State. They started dating soon after.
Even though Jake attended IUP, THON has played a large role in his life, and his relationship with Diane. Through her time at Penn State (having graduated this past winter), Diane was heavily involved with THON. In THON 2011, Diane represented SPSEA (Student Pennsylvania State Education Association) on the BJC floor. While simply being a dancer provides an experience that one will never forget, this was no ordinary year for Diane and Jake.
In August of 2010, Jake was diagnosed with epithelioid sarcoma. That October, the lower half of his right leg was amputated (he has been in remission since the surgery). A few months later, Jake was at the Bryce Jordan Center, supporting Diane the whole weekend on crutches.
Diane told how one of the most significant moments during that weekend occurred when Jake told her to look up at a section in the stands. Standing there was Jake’s parents, holding up a sign of encouragement. Diane said that it was one of those moments when you can truly feel that you are a part of someone’s family.
“I still get choked up thinking about his parent’s holding that sign,” she said. “I lost it at that moment.”
Jake and Diane have continued to attend THON, and so when he knew that he was going to ask Diane to marry him, he knew it had to be during THON. He emailed 2013 Overall Will Martin, detailing his plans, and Martin gave him two floor passes.
Jake then recruited the help of Dan Zambanini, a member of the Morale Committee, a member of Springfield, and the brother of Ali. He told Diane that, as a Valentine’s gift, through some emails he had managed to get them floor passes. Expecting that a proposal was in her near future, Diane had told herself not to get too excited thinking every moment was going to be the one. She said that neither Jake nor Dan made a big deal about the passes, so she didn’t think anything of it.
“I’m also a blonde, so I might have just had one of my blonde moments,” Diane said.
At about 4 p.m., the time had come. Nerves running high, Jake said to Diane, “Do you remember when you were dancing and my parents were holding up a sign for you? Well, I think there is another sign up there for you.”
At that moment, Dan signaled to the Springfield crew in the stands to drop down a sign asking Diane to marry him. Diane said she didn’t register what was happening at first, but as soon as she turned around she was immediately overwhelmed.
“I was already bawling before I turned back around,” Diane said. “It was absolutely perfect. I couldn’t imagine a better way.”